This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. I am slowly blogging through Steele's Answers, posting each Q & A in the order in which they appear (whether I personally agree with the answer or not). But, these posts come from several other sources, as well. I post particularly eloquent passages from Dr. Steele's other writings. Occasionally I post "guest blogs" from other holiness writers.
QUESTION: If all sin is eradicated from the heart, what is the source of the impatience, harsh criticism, censoriousness, etc., that we see in those who are stoutly contending that they are sanctified wholly?
ANSWER: Not all is gold that glitters; not all professors are possessors. This is as true of justification as of sanctification.
QUESTION: What is the Roman Catholic scheme of perfection?
ANSWER: By fulfilling "the three counsels of perfection," the vow of poverty, of obedience to the superior of the monastery or nunnery, and chastity. The priests promise only subordination to the hierarchy and celibacy — a far different thing from chastity. Neither the secular priests nor the laity can attain perfection, except by going through purgatory.
QUESTION: Explain Matt. 12:43-45, "But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of a man, passeth through waterless places seeking rest, and findeth it not." * * * "Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation."
ANSWER: The gross idolatry of Israel had been cast out through captivity in Babylon, so that they were "empty and swept" of that evil, but they had permitted a sevenfold greater to come in, namely, Pharisaism embracing self-righteousness and unbelief culminating in the rejection of their Messiah King and Savior. To show the enormity of these sins and their dreadful consequences he uses a parable suggested by his miracle just wrought by casting out a demon (verse 22). The whole description bears a parabolic impress, and the several features should not be overstrained or "made to go on all fours." The whole subject of demoniacal possessions is greatly alleviated by the idea that while Christ was on the earth the Almighty lengthened their tether, permitting them to take possession of some men in Judea, where a basement window was left open, so that Jesus by casting them out could demonstrate that demons were subject to him while angels ministered unto Him, thus showing his universal Lordship. This theory is sustained by the fact that demonical possessions did not often occur in the Old Testament nor to any great extent in the NewTestament after the time of Christ. "Waterless" or desert, places are witnesses of the sin of mankind — a sticking proof of the disappearance of Paradise. Hence deserts are suitable places for demons outside of hell. See Isa. 13:21, 22; 34:13-15, Rev 18:2. The number seven denotes completeness. "Empty and swept" signify sloth; "the idle man's brain is the devil's workshop." "Garnished" — here the pure soul appears as the bride wooed by heaven and hell. The unclean man is fascinated by purity which he desires to defile. This passage of Scripture is full of deep moral truth, the most alarming of which is the possibility of a Christian's final and eternal apostasy. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
QUESTION: What do you regard as the strongest Scriptural proof that a person who has been truly converted may be finally and eternally lost?
ANSWER: The words of Christ in John 15:1, 6 can have no other meaning. A person who is "a branch in me" (Christ) may become fruitless and "withered" and "cast forth as a branch," and "gathered" and "cast into the fire," and "burned." If this figurative language is not a solemn, deliberate and graphic declaration of the possible perdition of a soul once regenerated and savingly united with Christ, then it is impossible to express this idea in human language. These words should lead every professor of Christ to ask himself daily, am I bringing forth such fruit as Jesus Christ is looking for, (1) the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and (2) the fruit of saved souls (John 4:36) "How a man can be 'in Christ,'" says Bishop Westcott, "and yet afterwards separate himself from him, is a mystery neither greater nor less than that involved in the fall of a creature created innocent." The scholarly bishop must have forgotten that the fall of a Christian under the assaults of the devil is less mysterious than the fall of the angels who fell without temptation.
QUESTION: Can the people of God expect a revival in a church filled with card players, dancing and whiskey drinking, by praying through, over or around these detestable abominations?
ANSWER: Yes; after a plenty of unsparing preaching in rebuke of sins dishonoring the holy Christ. Then let there be united and tremendous praying and believing. Read the article "The Heavens Opened," in the Methodist Review for March and April, 1907. It will tone up your faith.
QUESTION: For what reason is Madam Guyon styled "a mystic?"
ANSWER: The word signifies mysterious, hidden, incomprehensible. To a worldly person a spiritual experience of the witness of the Holy Spirit and of Communion with God is mystical. Most ardent piety breathes in the hymns and other writings of this good lady persecuted and imprisoned by a church so fallen that it could not appreciate the seraphic ardor of this woman. All true Christians are mystics. Only nominal Christians and worldlings dislike the term and try to cast reproach upon it.
QUESTION: Explain I Peter 3:19, Christ preaching to the spirits in prison.
ANSWER: We have several times answered this extendedly. We now only quote Wesley's Notes: "He preached through the ministry of Noah to unholy men before the fiood; who were then reserved by the justice of God as in a prison, till he executed the sentence upon them all; and are now also reserved to the judgment of the great day."
ANSWER: Perfect obedience to Law is perfect freedom, because the consciousness of law is lost in love, which prompts us to do spontaneously and gladly all theloved Lawgiver requires. Duty is not seen because LOVE is written over it in so large letters. Whom the Son maketh free is free indeed. His yoke is easy. Love knows no burden.
QUESTION: What should be my attitude towards an apparently sincere company, very bitter towards the churches, though professing the third blessing attested by the gift of tongues?
ANSWER: We should cherish a kindly feeling of pity toward these misguided people, who answer well to our definition of fanatic. Since they claim plenary inspiration it will do no good to try to show them their error, but it may save others from being led astray by them, just as the Bremen may save the exposed houses, although they cannot save that one which the fire is rapidly consuming. By these remarks we do not assert that the charisms, or extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, are limited to the Apostolic age, but that the phenomenon of unintelligible]e words without an interpreter, so that no thouglit is expressed for anyone's benefit, is not now needed as a Christian evidence.
QUESTION: What does Wesley mean when he thus cautions professors of Christian holiness, "Beware of that daughter of pride, enthusiasm." Is not enthusiasm a good quality?
ANSWER: In modern usage it has a good meaning, as it originally had among the Greeks. Take it to pieces and you will And it means en Theos, in God, denoting inspiration. But it soon began to take on the meaning of fanatic, in which sense Wesley used it. Isaac Taylor, in his Natural History of Enthusiasm, says: "A fanatic is an enthusiast transformed or developed. A typical enthusiast has a warm imagination and a sensitive heart with the malignant element still latent." He lives for only one object, and when opposed the evil is apt to become aroused; then he ceases to be an enthusiast and becomes a fanatic, wild, extravagant and unteachable in his religious opinions. He is infallible, being directly inspired by the Holy Ghost, as he imagines. He thinks every thought is from God and that he has no need of the Bible. "Why do I need a guide-board," I heard a fanatic say in a pulpit, "when I have the Guide?" Another boasted that he had not looked in the Bible during a month. The devil easily trips such people up by injecting temptations to evil acts which, not being tested by the Scriptures, are supposed to be right because inspired by God. This is the road to ruin, trodden by many who were once earnest Christians. Wesley cut off sixty fanatics from his Foundry Society in one day. They called him "poor blind John." Beware of fanaticism, the devil's trap for those whom he can catch in no other way.